Research Companion to the Dysfunctional Workplace
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Research Companion to the Dysfunctional Workplace

Management Challenges and Symptoms

Edited by Janice Langan-Fox, Cary L. Cooper and Richard J. Klimoski

A work exposing and exploring the phenomena of the dysfunctional workplace is long overdue. This fascinating book does just that, uncovering the subversiveness, counter-productive behaviour and unspoken ‘issues’ that managers struggle with on a daily basis.
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Chapter 16: Towards a Relational Model of Workplace Aggression

M. Sandy Hershcovis and Julian Barling


M. Sandy Hershcovis and Julian Barling In a national study of the prevalence of workplace aggression in the USA, Schat et al. (2006) found that 41 percent of workers experience some type of psychological aggression at work, and 6 percent of workers experience some form of physical violence. Workplace aggression is a ubiquitous and insidious feature of many organizations, and studies have shown that such aggression, even in its mildest forms, has detrimental effects on the wellbeing of its victims. Although researchers have examined the effects of workplace aggression, little research exists that conceptualizes aggression as a function of a relationship between a perpetrator and a victim. More emphasis on the nature of this relationship is important because the enactment of aggression as well as the victim’s experience of aggression is likely to depend on the perpetrator/victim relationship. This chapter sets out first to provide an overview of the literature on workplace aggression by examining its predictors and consequences. We then consider how the relationship between the perpetrator and the victim might affect both the enactment of aggression by perpetrators, and the experience of aggression by victims. Finally, we consider the constraints in existing methods that prevent us from examining the perpetrator/victim relationship, and make some suggestions for how future studies can overcome these constraints. Over the past decade, a burgeoning literature has emerged that focuses primarily on two streams of workplace aggression research. The first stream examines the predictors of enacted workplace aggression; this literature considers...

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